SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - October 2009


Message from the President - Sheri Nelson
“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor” - Vince Lombardi

The selection of quality music literature is the most important decision the choral director makes.  We do not have a state approved textbook adopted by our districts that is the guide to our curriculum.  Our literature selection is the core of our curriculum and the selection of literature should be an area where we have a “commitment to excellence”.  As you select your literature do you ask yourself if your literature:

 - Reflects a variety of time periods and composers
 - Includes both sacred and secular pieces
 - Has an appropriately high difficulty level that will challenge your singers and allow for success
 - Fits the ranges of the singers in the ensemble
 - Includes text in a foreign language(s)
 - Is both accompanied and acappella
 - Includes a variety of styles and tempos

Where do we go to find quality literature? The SCVA Fall In-service, ACDA Regional Workshops, SCVA Suggested Repertoire lists, and colleagues are a few good places to start.  I would like to form a committee of directors who would be willing to help SCVA update our Suggested Repertoire Lists.  There are numerous pieces on our suggested lists that are permanently out of print and excellent contemporary pieces that should be reviewed and added to our lists.  We need committee members who would be willing to review literature recently performed at our festivals and solicit suggestions from the membership for pieces they wish to have added.  SCVA has suggested lists for both Junior High and High School so we need directors with experience at either level.  Please email me if you can assist or can recommend a colleague whose literature selections you admire.  This is an important area that needs input from our entire membership.  Please help SCVA continue to be a resource for both new and experienced directors and volunteer to help us update our Suggested Repertoire Lists.


What Helps the Most? BE A FESTIVAL HOST!!
Jennifer Stanley, VP-High School Festivals and Maria Fritts, VP-Junior High & Middle School Festivals

“I think the SCVA festivals are some of the most effective that we attend.”
                                                            – Craig Gruenberg, Granada Hills CHS Choral Director

10. It’s easy to register as a festival host ONLINE at SCVACHORAL.ORG
9. You get free festival registration for one of your choirs at each festival you host.
8. You get excellent networking opportunities with other directors and adjudicators.
7. Your students have the familiarity of performing in their regular venue (home court advantage!)
6. SCVA enrolls choirs in your festival and gives you contact information for each director.
5. SCVA provides all forms and plaques needed to run the festival.
4. SCVA schedules certified adjudicators for your festival.
3. You don’t have to get a bus to go to festival.
2. You can set the date on your calendar NOW!
1. You provide an opportunity for many students to see other choirs and hear quality repertoire.

Submit your festival host registration at SCVACHORAL.ORG - deadline is November 1, 2009.

If you are interested in hosting an ELEMENTARY FESTIVAL, or if you have questions about elementary festivals, please email Maria. Please contact us if you have any questions!


Vocal Jazz - Christine Tavares, VP, Jazz Choir
Welcome back everybody! This is my second year as Vocal Jazz VP for SCVA! I currently direct two vocal jazz groups Two N’ Four and Seven AM at Valencia High School in Valencia. I have a bachelor’s degree in vocal music with an emphasis on classical and jazz studies from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I also perform as a jazz vocalist in “The Swingin’ Six” and an improvisational vocalist in “Moira Smiley and Voco.” My goals as SCVA Vocal Jazz VP are to encourage high school vocal jazz educators to network, provide resources to directors, help educators wanting to start a vocal jazz program, and to plan the annual SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival. Please email me,, if you’d like to make any suggestions for this year’s vocal jazz festival or have any questions about vocal jazz in particular.


Fall In-Service -- Mark Henson, Past President
I hope you’re planning to join us for a day of sharing and inspiration at this year’s Fall In-Service.  We will begin with a choral reading session featuring titles appropriate for choirs at many different levels.  We will also enjoy the Men’s Choirs from Arroyo High School (Jennifer Stanley, director) and King High School (Brian Holm, director) which will lead to a clinic and discussion about working with developing choirs.  Also presented will be sessions regarding efficient grading for choral classes, cultural awareness in choral music, advocacy tools/strategies, and more.

Members who are wishing to become certified SCVA adjudicators will receive an introduction to the adjudication process and will then complete sample adjudications of our special guest groups – Mesa Robles Middle School under the direction of Debbie Montpas, and the Upland High School Madrigals under the direction of Roger Estrada.  Whether or not you are going through the certification process, I'm sure you will enjoy the performances of these fine choirs.

The In-Service officially begins at 9 a.m. but you'll want to arrive early for check-in and coffee-juice-pastry social time.  There will be a lunch break of about an hour, and we expect to conclude by 4 p.m.  The venue for the day will again be Placentia Presbyterian Church located at 849 N. Bradford Avenue in Placentia.

Come to be inspired and motivated!  Visit the SCVA website now to register.  Final confirmation, schedule, directions, etc. will be sent to registrants via email.  I look forward to seeing you (and your friends who are not yet members) on October 23!


News from the CMEA Choral Representative - Christopher Peterson, CSU Fullerton
I am pleased to announce that the California Association for Music Education will once again sponsor an honor choir for middle-level choral musicians: The 2010 CMEA All-State Middle School Honor Choir. The honor choir will be held in conjunction with CMEA’s Professional Development Conference (“Music: One Goal, One Voice!”) in Sacramento, California on March 11–13, 2010. Last year’s honor choir was a great success, and we believe that these kinds of offerings help to strengthen middle-level music programs all over the state. We hope you will encourage your students to submit a recorded audition for the choir this year. More information regarding student eligibility, audition requirements,and singer expectations can be found at the CMEA website:

Our Co-chairpersons for the choir are Marc R. McAlexander and Stephanie Grogg. Immediate questions can be directed to Mr. McAlexander by email at: Be well, and may this be your best teaching year to date!  Chris

Middle School Honor Choir Timeline
October 23, 2009:        Postmarked deadline for audition materials to be sent to the Honor Choir Chairperson, Marc McAlexander.
November 13, 2009:    Notification via mail and or e-mail.
December 18, 2009:     Postmarked deadline for paperwork and fees to be returned to CMEA.
January 15, 2010:         Music packets, practice CD’s and related materials mailed to singer’s school.
March 11-13, 2010:     All-State Middle School Honor Choir Rehearsals at the Professional Development Conference in Sacramento.
March 13, 2010:          Performance at the Sacramento Convention Center, 4 pm.


HONOR CHOIRS NEED YOUR HELP! - Tammi Alderman - VP, High School Honor Choirs
Approximately 260 students will be descending upon Point Loma University for the High School Honor Choirs rehearsal on Saturday, October 24th (THANK YOU, DAN JACKSON!).   And on November 20th and 21st, Honor Choirs Weekend, they will once again gather at Santa Monica High School (THANK YOU JEFFE HULS!) for two days of intense rehearsal which will culminate in another spectacular SCVA Honor Choirs Concert on Saturday evening.  They will bring so many parents, siblings, friends and classmates with them, that the 1,200 seat concert hall will be absolutely packed!  If you have never attended an SCVA High School Honor Choirs concert, take advantage of the opportunity this year.  The raucous atmosphere and phenomenal musicianship displayed by the young singers are not to be missed!

While working with and managing the three choirs during rehearsals is great fun, and unbelievably rewarding, it is also incredibly challenging.  With the singer to teacher ratio anywhere from 50:1 to 100:1, the odds are daunting that we can manage to remain sane throughout the weekend!  Honestly, a great deal of help is needed.  John and I so much appreciate all of the help teachers gave us with the adjudication process, and we don’t want to overtax your goodwill.  But to those of you who had students audition for the Honor Choirs (even if they didn’t make it)…HELP!  If it’s only for an hour or so, we need you.  It’s not glamorous work (and some of it isn’t pretty) but it all needs to get done.  Besides, the camaraderie is wonderful.

We especially look forward to accepting help from directors whose students auditioned successfully for one or more of the choirs.  We realize how thankful you are and know that you want to show your students how much it means to you that they are there. We are confident that you will contact one of us and ask how you can help!   Please give us some of your time.

This year’s Honor Choirs conductors, Dr. Joshua Habermann (University of Miami), Lori Marie Rios (College of the Canyons), and Harold Clousing (Azusa Pacific University) have chosen incredible literature for the students.  Every singer will be challenged by it but will also experience the kind of profound music that can change lives.  And all three conductors will demand the best the students can give.  They exemplify the old Somerset Maugham axiom, “It is a funny thing about life: If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it.  Each will guide and inspire the singers in a wholly unique way; each is a master teacher; all three are conductors who have “polished their own lanterns so that others may follow their lights” (Roshi).  Don’t miss this chance to come and observe and learn.  And while you’re at it, please stop by and offer to help John and me out.  In fact, email us and make a reservation to volunteer today!

Tammi Alderman:
John Hendricks:


Website Update  - Mark Freedkin, SCVA Webmaster
The updated on-line Membership Application process that allows you to renew your membership without re-entering all of your contact information is working very well.  In the near future, we will add the ability to update your e-mail address as well.  In the meantime, please contact me if you have any trouble renewing your membership on-line.

The on-line High School Honor Choir audition application process also ran very smoothly this year, with over 600 applications received.  For the first time ever, none of our outgoing automated e-mail approval messages were rejected as suspected SPAM.

However, more than 100 applications included an incomplete or incorrect director’s e‑mail address.  We use the director’s e-mail address to send an automated e-mail message that allows you to approve or reject your singers’ applications.  As a result, we had to manually correct each of those applications and then re‑send the approval e-mail messages.  This slows down the approval process and makes a bunch of extra work for me, especially during the final two days before the application deadline.  Please help us improve the accuracy and efficiency of our on-line application process by ensuring that your students enter your e-mail address correctly.  We would also encourage you to select a single e-mail address that all of your singers use, rather than using multiple addresses.

On a humorous side note, please also remind your students that the first letter of proper names should be capitalized, and that you are yelling WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS.

$$ How to Save Money When Using PayPal $$
When using PayPal to pay the application or participation fees for multiple students, you can minimize the processing fees by adding the desired item to your Shopping Cart only one time, and then specify a quantity for that one item.  You should not add the same item to your Shopping Cart multiple times (once for each student), since that will result in a larger processing fee added to you total transaction.

If you have any comments, questions or problems with any of the pages on our website, please contact Mark Freedkin at


Vocal Solo Competition - Colleen Kennedy, VP - Vocal Solo Competition
I cannot stress strongly enough the value to your students, and to your choirs, of participation in the SCVA Vocal Solo Competition. It’s so much more than a competition. The process of preparing and performing a solo for adjudication, in and of itself, provides singers with a tremendous opportunity for growth as musicians. Add to that watching and listening to their peers and receiving guidance by leaders in the field, and you’ve got one powerful experience. The educational masterclass aspect of the competition is emphasized throughout the process, so that everyone, novices to veterans, can benefit from participation. Some choral directors have found the solo competition experience so valuable that they require members of their ensembles to participate.

Change in Requirements
Just a reminder that last year, the SCVA Board voted to revise the vocal solo competition policies so that the choral requirement for the vocal solo competition it is now in line with the honor choirs. Specifically, applicants for the solo competition are now required to be active members in their school choral program. As with the honor choirs, exceptions may be considered for students who are home-schooled or whose schools do not have choral programs. The Board feels that this revised requirement will maintain consistency among the various SCVA events, and it will also better serve the stated goal of the SCVA to promote choral music in the schools.

Preliminary Round Sites and Hosts
Once again, I’m soliciting for volunteers to host the preliminary rounds in January. This is a perfect entry-level event for anyone who is interested in becoming more involved in SCVA. All you need is a room with decent acoustics, a tuned piano, and seating for maybe 40 - 50 people. The average choir room is just fine. It doesn’t require much time on your part, outside of competition day. Everything you need will be sent to you in a packet. The only prep work is filling in the names of singers on their certificates. On competition day, you simply collect the paperwork in a postage-paid envelope and drop it in the nearest mailbox. It really is that easy.

Suggested Repertoire
A list of suggested repertoire and song books, compiled by Heidi Cissell at Oak Park High School, is available online in the event details information. Please feel free to email me with suggestions.

Online Application
The vocal solo competition application is only available online this year at, either from the front page or from the Events link.

Application Info
 - Directors or sponsors must be current members of SCVA, having paid their 2009-10 dues, in order for their students to participate.
- Please remind participants to make sure that they are available for all dates and times before completing the application. The competition is a significant time commitment.
- Participation is open to students in junior high/middle school (grades 6 – 8) and high school (grades 9 – 12).  The two levels participate in the master classes together but compete separately.
- Participants must be active members of a school choral program. (Note: This requirement has been revised from previous years.)
- Chorus membership must be confirmed by the choral director.
- The non-refundable application fee remains $20.
- Applications must be accompanied by a school check or money order payable to SCVA, or an SCVA e-Payments receipt. Please, no personal checks or cash.

Performance Info
- More than just a competition, the preliminary and final rounds are in masterclass format, lasting approximately 3 to 4 hours, including breaks.
- Each participant will sing one classical piece (art song or aria).
- Selections should be appropriate to the singer’s age and experience level.
- Participants have a total of 8 minutes to perform and work with the adjudicator.
- Singers must provide their own skilled accompanists for the preliminary and final rounds.
- Participants are expected to check in before the masterclass starts and remain until the end to receive their certificates and adjudication forms.
- Depending on the number of finalists, there might be two sessions for the final round. If so, participants will only need to attend one of the sessions.
- Scholarships will be awarded, and final placement of the high school finalists will be announced, at the Jr. High/Middle School Honor Choir concert.

Dates to Remember
I’ve done my best to avoid conflicts with CMEA, CA ACDA, ACDA, college auditions and testing dates. The final round is later than usual this year in order to avoid these conflicts.
- Saturday, December 5, 2009: Online application and payment deadline
- Saturday, January 16, 2010: Preliminary round
- Saturday, April 10, 2010: Final round
- Final performances/scholarships awarded at the Jr. High/Middle School Honor Choir concert (date TBA)

Please contact me at colleenbkennedy AT gmail DOT com with any questions.


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application (not required for Honor Choir audition or participation)
On-Line Festival Host Application